Bedside Musings

Robert’s had a few setbacks since he’s been in the hospital. But looks like he’s back on the mend again. Various nurses have come in and out of his life this past week or two, some good, some not so good. Some downright horrible.

I realize the good ones far outweigh the bad ones out there. But there are still too many out there who are callous — or worse, incompetent — and not fit to treat my cats for fleas. These people need to get jobs in other fields as quickly as possible. McDonald’s is always hiring.

Take Rick (not his real name for obvious reasons; what kind of fool do you think I am?) for example. I first encountered him last weekend. He’s not really a nurse, he’s what they call a PCA (Patient Care Assistant). Personally, I think PCA really stands for Pretty Crappy Attitude. First of all, I sat speechless as Robert recounted the tale last Friday evening of how Rick let him lay in feces for at least three hours. Now, due to being bedridden, Robert now has a bedsore (read: open wound) the size of a quarter right on his coccyx (tailbone). This is precariously close to where the shit (if you will) lies on the bedding. It is imperative, for reasons having more to do with fighting infection than comfort and convenience, that this area be kept clean. It’s not rocket science.

So Rick immediately shot to the top of my shit list. In addition to that, I’m not entirely unconvinced that he didn’t man-handle Robert that weekend. He’s been experiencing increased pain since that incident, along with a steep decline in hemoglobin. His neurosurgeon admits that it’s “possible” it was due to being mishandled.

Robert has undergone a battery of tests this past week to determine where this blood is going in his body. Today he had some more exploratory back surgery and after they closed him up, they really didn’t know any more than they did before. So now we wait for cultures to come back from the lab.

Again, this weekend, Rick was on duty. The first thing he did when he came in was fuss with the bedside tray. He lowered it, spun it around and put it in the corner.

After he left, I had to wrestle with it, raise it back up, turn it around, and slide it to the bed so Robert could eat and shave and do whatever else it is he wanted to do.

About 20 minutes after that, Rick came back in, saw the tray had been messed with and started fussing with it. I was just about to make the snarky comment that “well, we’ll just have to put it back the way you want it, Rick; we’re only here for your comfort and convenience.” But about that time, he muttered, “Well, it’s all about what the patient needs and wants.” Uh, no shit, Sherlock.

Then at the other end of the spectrum is Carmen (her real name). She is an angel. She is very gentle and sweet. She wanted to be sure Robert’s hair was washed and combed, she bathed him, made sure everything was just right. She has a great attitude. She is a chatterbox, though, but with someone so sweet, you can overlook it. I don’t see that many visitors on this floor so I wonder how many visitors the other patients have. Those people would welcome Carmen and her funny stories, I bet.

Also excellent is another PCA named Anika. She is so professional. I am sure she’s destined to become a full fledged nurse or more. She briskly comes in, takes vitals, announces the readings, thanks Robert, and is gone. But so very elegant.

Little (tiny, barely five feet tall) Ginnie is a sweetheart, too. She is a great nurse, very caring. She calls me “momma.” She doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty, literally. She’s not as personable or chatty as Carmen, but she does make small talk. She also sees to it that he’s comfortable and clean.

Well, this is all the bellyaching I have to do for now.

Update: Oh, it gets worse. The night nurse, who relieves Carmen, came in. The PCA had come in before and checked his Jackson-Pratt drain. There was one on each shoulder. I had to remind the PCA that there was one on his left shoulder as well as his right, which she had emptied. She returned to empty the one on the left. Then the night nurse, Nurse Nowitall, came in and insisted there was TWO on the left side and one on the right. Robert and I both corrected her, there were two, one on each side. In fact, the doctor had indicated this to me earlier so we would know what to expect when he got out of surgery.

But undeterred, Nurse Nowitall proceeded to roll Robert over VERY ROUGHLY and gouged her hand into his shoulder where the wound was. He yelped in pain, I uttered “God-dammit!” — she looked back and glowered at me. I then said, “And how many drains are there?” “One,” she said. “And they’ll be duly noted in the chart, I trust?” (So no more dumbasses like you will try this stunt.) She then muttered something about checking his bandage (yeah, since she was already there; had to cover it up somehow).
Then, when she was at the door on her way out, Nowitall then sputtered, “Carmen said Dr. XXXXX said there was one on one side and two on the other.” Yeah, sure, right, uh-huh, okay, fine.” You keep thinking that. Sister. But what I really said was, “Well, Dr. XXXXX must have been really tired, because he told me TWO, one on each side.” Sheesh. I’m fat, sister. Not stupid. Just fat.

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